HJ - Standard Page County Courthouse

Page County officials are seeking information on what it would cost to relocate a natural gas line on county property in Clarinda.

The Board of Supervisors, during a meeting Monday, Nov. 18, directed County Engineer J.D. King to obtain the data from the owner of the line, Alliant Energy.

The line runs under a building at the Secondary Roads Department complex at East State and North Sixth streets. The structure houses county vehicles.

The site is also the location for a potential new, adjacent shop building, although no formal action has been taken to proceed with that work.

King said having the line under the existing building is not a desirable situation, and relocating the line would also route it away from the proposed new structure.

The line could be moved through a cost-sharing arrangement with Alliant, King said. A figure of $30,000 has been mentioned for the county’s share.

“They were going to pick up the cost under the current building, and we were going to pick up the cost of the new building part,” King said.

Supervisor Chuck Morris questioned the necessity of moving the line at present.

Regarding the new structure, he said, “We don’t have anything planned right now. We don’t have a a bid. This board has not authorized building that, so why are we moving it [the line] now?”

Supervisor Chairman Alan Armstrong said it has not been determined why -- several decades ago -- the existing building was placed over the gas line. “It was built on top of it, without any rhyme or reason,” he said, adding that there may not have been adherence to a “One Call” procedure through which underground utilities are identified and clearly marked.

  Armstrong said he wanted to know from Alliant “what the total cost would be if they do it. We need to have an estimate of what their cost would be, from start to finish.”

Supervisor Jon Herzberg agreed, noting that it would be beneficial “to see a plan from Alliant, and what their cost is.”

Morris said, “We don’t know what their costs are. They might be $5,000, as far as we know. It’s not acceptable. I can’t support that. The dollars have never been disclosed. A taxpayer says, ‘Why is the county spending $30,000 moving a gas line. It’s been there 40 years. You don’t have a building project. Why are you spending our money that way?’ There’s no way to defend that.”

  Along with acquiring a detailed estimate from Alliant on the cost of moving the line, the county should have a contract with the utility company specifying how the work will be undertaken, Armstrong said.

  “We need to have some type of agreement,” he said.

  Rather than going ahead with the line relocation, it would be prudent for the county to “wait until we get a building plan, and know that we are moving forward,” Morris said. “Right now, we’ve got too many other things to do.”

  In other matters at the meeting, the supervisors confirmed that Janet Olsen, the county’s director of veterans’ affairs, would continue to work on a schedule of 26 hours a week.

  Money in the current budget for the department cannot cover hours worked over that limit for a prolonged period, the supervisors noted.

  The department has funds in a separate allocation. In limited situations, “you can use it to supplement over-budget hours, but not on a continuous basis,” said Ron Gibson, county veterans’ commission member who attended the meeting.

  Any increase in the number of hours for Olsen would have to be approved through the county’s budgetary process.

  Money in the allocation can be directed toward the purchase of computer software and hardware. Gibson and the supervisors concurred that expenditures for such items would be useful in upgrading record keeping and data storage.

  Commenting on another issue affecting the department, Gibson said more drivers are needed to transport veterans to medical appointments outside the county.

  In other business, the supervisors:

  Directed Brandy Powers, assistant administrator for Page County Public Health, to confer with Tom Nordhues, the county’s safety risk management coordinator, to schedule training for employees on how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use automated external defibrillators (AEDs). They were put at various locations in the courthouse in 2016. The pads on the devices need to be replaced in coming months, Powers said.

Approved a tax abatement request from the City of Shenandoah for a property at 1307 West Sheridan Ave., at one time referred to as the “butterfly house.”

Completed a “second tier” canvass of the Nov. 5 school board elections, covering returns from residents in Adams, Mills, Montgomery and Taylor counties who are in locations encompassed by districts in Page County.

  Heard a report from Page County Auditor Melissa Wellhausen on the status of department budgets at the current stage in the budget year.

  Rescheduled an appearance by Martha Herzberg to discuss issues with work on a road near her residence at 3217 Montgomery-Page Road.

 Decided to solicit bids for asbestos mitigation in the former Clarinda First United Methodist Church education building on West Washington Street. The county closed on the purchase of the building in late October.

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